Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 7 - Page 8

T Solo Sports & Autism A G r e at M at c h he childhood sports that I enjoyed most were those that I could do alongside other kids without the intense interaction of typical team sports. I was on a bowling “team.” All that meant was that I took turns with four other kids. The bowling itself was an individual pursuit. Other kids took a turn. I took a turn. I got to add up the scores. I wandered off to watch one of the arcade games. Someone called me back when it was my turn. It was great. Golf, dance and karate were the same. I did them alongside other kids but not really with them. There was an appearance of social interaction. The actual amount of interacting I did was minimal, and that was fine. 8 ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses While many individual sports are competitive, most also encourage “personal bests.” Beating a high score in bowling or nailing a new snowboarding trick can be as fulfilling as beating an opponent. 2. Individual sports allow you to be part of a team without the pressures of a team sport. If a child has a bad day as a team player, his actions can impact the whole team. If he has a bad day as a cross country runner, he might not place well, but one of his teammates could still win the race. There are team consequences, but they tend to be less severe. Team sports put a big emphasis on bonding with other team members, which can be stressful when you’re autistic. I tried team sports. In middle school, I was on the school softball and basketball teams. Both were fun, but I wasn’t very good at them and spent most of my time sitting on the bench during games. Team sports were confusing and often overwhelming. There are so many variables: the rules, the other team members, the fast pace, and the ball (inevitably, there’s a ball involved). For the typical Aspie, this is a lot to manage. By the time I got to high school, I knew that team sports weren’t for me. by Cynth ia K im 1. Individual sports allow you to progress at your own pace. But, individual sports? This is where autistic people can shine! When I’m out running on a dirt trail or gliding across the pool, I feel strong and athletic, connected to my body. For a time, I forget that I’m the same person who regularly walks into furniture. I’ll never be a superior athlete--I have to work hard just to be average--but I think individual sports have a lot to offer for people on the spectrum. Here are seven reasons why individualized sports can be a good fit for kids on the spectrum. 3. Individual sports encourage individual practice. If a child has motor coordination difficulties-and many autistic individuals do--he might need a lot more practice than most of his peers to learn or master a skill. When that skill is something that doesn’t require a team or a partner to practice, a child can spend time working on i